The $90 a Month Vending Machine

We can't get over this ridiculous vending machine outside the city pool. It has a dedicated A/C on top that runs non-stop. We calculated the monthly bill to keep the A/C running to be higher than monthly sales could ever be and more than likely the sales go to an outside company not the pool that pays the utility bill each month.

Yum JuJu B's

Yum JuJu B's by mikey and wendy
Yum JuJu B's, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
Our jujube fruit has started ripening and are ready to eat. I live these little guys. They taste like tiny caramel apples. Like all the spiked flora they love our climate along with pomegranate and mesquite they perfect fruit bearing trees for our area.

Top Summer Ferments

Top Summer Ferments by mikey and wendy
Top Summer Ferments, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

In our house hold we love fermenting all year long, but summer is extra special. Our favorites this summer have been:

Roasted green chili (far left)
Kimchi (not shown)
Ginger beer
Mead with an apple finish
Yogurt (just Wendy)


Wasp Nest

Wasp Nest by mikey and wendy
Wasp Nest, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.

Pro tip: Do not collect wasp nests from around your house and leave them in a pile by your door. The wasps will come back to the nest and try to repopulate it.


On The Future of Capitalism

I admit that I am still reading the book I'm recommending to you, Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. Several people pointed me to his work while I was on my book tour. From what I have read so far, our views about capitalism are remarkably similar. I'm on his email list and so I get occasional musings that he shares, thoughts between books, blog like bits. Today I'm posting a snippet from one to encourage you to read on. It caught my attention because he nails a particular thing endemic to capitalism, a kind of devaluing that occurs. Here's the snippet,

"Echoing Roman law, to own something today implies the right to "use, enjoy, and abuse" it. In other words, all the benefits derived from it are yours, and you are under no obligation to use it in a way that benefits society or the planet. (As mentioned, this has seldom entirely been the case in practice.) What would ownership mean if we significantly altered this Roman law conception? That is what Sacred Economics proposes. First, it circumscribes the private right to "use and abuse" property by penalizing socially and environmentally harmful activities like polluting. Secondly, inspired by Henry George, it separates as much as possible the "enjoyment" (i.e. the fruits) of ownership from the fruits of the labor and creativity added to the thing owned. This means eliminating "economic rents" - the proceeds one obtains through the mere ownership of property, as opposed to the improvement of the property or the wise use of the property. Thirdly, it limits the extent to which one may enclose the cultural and intellectual commons, in part by curtailing copyright and patent terms. Finally, it asserts a public interest onto financial capital by subjecting money to a demurrage fee, a negative interest rate, that discourages hoarding and encourages zero-interest lending, in essence making money less of a thing you can keep, hold, and own. Hold onto it too long, and eventually it will no longer be "yours."

Less than 3 Weeks

Less than 3 Weeka by mikey and wendy
Less than 3 Weeka, a photo by mikey and wendy on Flickr.
This bed was planted at the beginning or August. It is totally rocking out. Next year we will skip our summer garden all together. The conditions are just too harsh. We'll try covering the beds with shade cloth, putting them to rest, and also cover crops and compare the results. We'll resume planting in late August or early September.

Crossing the Rio Grande just got Easier

We got our dam back.


A New Skirt for the Trailer

We started cleanup on the back of our property today. The first order of business was to redo the skirting around our trailer. What had been there was a cardboard like material that decayed. We replaced it with galvanized corrugated metal which looks a heck of a lot better. This material is favored in the SW. Metal is one of the few materials that can withstand our climate. And for under $20 per 2.5' X 10' sheet it's economical for a variety of projects. We were both shocked that it took less than two hours to complete this job. More tomorrow, then more projects, then more, ....

Running Shoes : Salomon Synapse

I scored these Salomon Synapse off eBay last week for $16. The Montrail Fluid Flex I've been running in is an awesome shoe for crossing rivers, but it also picks up a bunch of small rocks. I was looking for something with a better rock plate to protect the bottom of my foot from sharp rocks and non-traditional shoe laces. The Synapses is a fairly light shoe only 13.4 oz for the pair. They feature an aggressive tread and a new technology called "Quick Lace". I'm hoping they are wide enough, drain water fast and don't give me blisters.


Rattlesnakes Everywhere

I went to the local hardware store today. As I entered an employee said, "watch your step out back, they're here." If you live in southern New Mexico you likely know that he was referring to rattlesnakes. "We found two today!" He continued to say.

This picture is from my morning run. I ran into this rather large, green rattlesnake at about 3 miles out just short of where I had intended to turn around to head home. When I saw him, and after he rattled at me, I texted Mikey who was ahead of me by about a mile. I cut my run short and headed back rather than try to cross him. About a half mile back down the dirt road I saw a second rattler. Yikes.

On the upside, this means they'll soon be returning to their ancient winter dens. Night night.

Goldenseal DIY Vitamin Capsules

Medicinal herbs can be expensive to buy in capsule form bottled by a manufacture. The plants used for these are often old and weaker than fresh plants. Since I have the time I prefer to buy medicinal plants that don't grow in my region but that are needed for my medicine cabinet, things like goldenseal, through a medicinal plant supplier. I favor Starwest Botanicals. I buy in bulk, and make my own capsules when needed by using a simple capping product (see pic).

Jewelry Scrap Transformed Thanks to Etsy

It is hard to be a maker of everything. I added a lot of skills to my set since I moved to New Mexico. I have not yet melted precious metals or set stones. I'm not sure I'll ever learn these skills. So what to do with the broken jewelry that's just hanging around? I went to ETSY to see if I could find an artist to work with, someone who would use my gold and stones to make new designs.

First I perused the site for jewelry designers whose work I liked. Then I wrote to four of them asking if they would work with my gold and stones. I chose pieces they'd already been making and asked for a quotes. All four wrote back. Their prices were fairly in line with each other so I picked the one with domestic shipping that I had the best rapport with. I sent off the first set of scraps yesterday. First I photographed the pieces and in one photo I showed the weight of the gold so we'd have a record of it. Whatever is not used on this project can be saved for another. I learned that when gold is melted there's a small loss due to the process that cleans or distills it, something that must be done to make the gold reusable.

This is yet another form of reuse which feels great. It has made previously unaffordable jewelry available to me at a price I can handle. I also love paying just for the time and work of the artist. I'll post again when my first piece is finished and comes in.

(PIC: I started off with a ring blank that is 14k white gold, and an antique ring with a diamond that was busted in too many places to fix, an apx 7grams and the one stone)

New Tote & Design - Converts To A Backpack

Last year I made my first tote handbag out of luxurious rattan upholstery fabric. I loved it so much that I just made another one for autumn /winter. I knew it was time to take on this project because I was craving mathematical and 3D challenges. So I put on some jazz and went to it.

The first bag I had made and loved, I had the habit of wearing as a backpack, which I did by slipping my arms through the two handles. This time around I set out to design a bag that could convert to a backpack. The way I'd been wearing it had left my bag wide open and me vulnerable to loosing things or the unlikely pick pocket.

For the new version I used the same rattan, only in darker colors. The addition of two snaps was all that was needed for the conversion: the first snap was placed near the bottom of the bag on it's external side. It snaps mid way up the same side of the bag. This immediately changes the shape of the bag. The second snap is inside at the top edge of the bag, it brings the two narrow sides of the bag together. This one closes the bag so contents don't fall out.

I also added an inner pocket with a flap so things stay put, and I sewed this pocket in such a way that it seconds as a horizontal pen slot that holds two pens. I lined the bag with almond colored fleece that I doubled on the bottom which gives the bag some shape holding power and lets it stand up on it's own. I like the light color because it makes it easier to see whats inside. I'm super happy with how it came out.


The River is Down Time to Run

One of the signs that summer is coming to a end for us is when the Rio Grande gets turned off. There is not exact date as it is based on the amount of water Texas is allotted. It's bitter sweet losing our rope swing and tubing trips, but at the same time we can easily cross the low river to reach our favorite running spots. Today was a 4.5 mile out and back up the mountain. We only saw one rattle snake in the middle of the trail.


Sesame Says OK to Fancy

Our home base is Truth or Consequences, NM a place most known for having just about nothing to it: one grocery store (until Walmart showed up), one traffic light (again until Walmart showed up), a couple of restaurants, one coffee shop, occasional yoga class, one movie theater, you get the idea. This sparse living is entirely the charm. Once you live with just the raw elements, and your discover your happy, a certain invincibility follows. Maybe depth is a better word. Of course there are things I miss that this little dust ball town ain't got. What I miss most is grandeur, old buildings and public space, things like libraries and venues with history built when masonry was still practiced and artisans participated in the making of a thing. In Santa Fe Mikey could hardly get me out of the St. Francis hotel for exactly these reasons. The hotel is old, beautiful, treasured and they welcome the pubic to enjoy it. Outside we sipped sangria on couches and people watched from their porch, then we slid into a public living room (see pic) and took in the lovely craftsmanship that the hotel painstakingly cares for. Santa Fe is full of places just like this. Sesame liked St. Francis too. Yes they welcome pups!

Santa Fe on the Cheap

Santa Fe on the Cheap We just returned from a 3 day trip to Santa Fe. We live about 3 hours South so day trips to Santa Fe are out of the question. The challenge for us has been to find inexpensive lodging. This time we camped near Hyde Park which is loaded with awesome $10 a night campsites. There is also a extensive trail network which we only started to explore. Santa Fe has plenty of great restaurants which are reasonably priced Jambo Cafe, Counter Culture, Claufoutis and Shake Foundation to name a few. We also enjoyed just hanging out in the square and having sunset cocktails at Hotel St. Francis. Santa Fe Cheap Trip. Aspen Vista Peak Trail just passed Hyde Park. Santa Fe Cheap Trip. Aspen Vista Peak Trail just passed Hyde Park. Santa Fe Cheap Trip. Aspen Vista Peak Trail just passed Hyde Park. Santa Fe Cheap Trip. Aspen Vista Peak Trail just passed Hyde Park.


In Pie Town - Now You See It Now You Don't

On route to Flagstaff, Az this past weekend Mikey and I stopped in Pie Town, NM where Mikey made a piece of pie disappear at record speed. At the Pie-O-Neer we enjoyed a lovely sweet potato pecan pie. Before leaving the waitress, who by the way was from Brooklyn, suggested that we call her on the way home. "Let us know what kind of pie you'd like and we'll have it ready," she said.

Flagstaff in Summer, Not Bad at All

When it comes down to it most places are hot and rather uncomfortable in August. We've been searching out the few exceptions in our region including Flagstaff, Az. We loved Flatstaff's casual and easy going culture, active street life, and unpretentious life style of getting outside, listening to live folk music and eating. One of Flag's built in treasures is Buffalo park. These photos were taken on a hike quite a bit north of it, on a trail that could be reached by hiking through.

I'm sure glad we fixed our own washing machine last week. While in Flagstaff I kept thinking, I could have paid someone to fix that machine, bought a new one or I could spend my money at great restaurants in Flagstaff which is much more fun! Our favorite three were: Pizzicletta for moderately priced thin crust sliced pizza, Diablo Burger for a seriously local and organic burger paired with local wine in generous portions, and Tinderbox for pricey creative fine dining that's worth every nickel. AZT AZT


Your cars sun shade is a versatile hat

Buffalo Park - Flagstaff, AZ

We really enjoyed running in Buffalo Park. There is a sweet groomed 2 mile loop that connects up to a network of 45 miles of trails. We should have done more research in advance to learn their trail network that links up to Buffalo Park.

Buffalo Park - Flagstaff